Suffolk's growing speeding bill revealed

MOTORISTS in Suffolk paid nearly £2.4million in speeding fines during the past year, new figures revealed today.Money generated by fixed and mobile cameras rocketed, increasing by just under £1million as the number of prosecutions rose from about 25,000 to 40,000.

MOTORISTS in Suffolk paid nearly £2.4million in speeding fines during the past year, new figures revealed today.

Money generated by fixed and mobile cameras rocketed, increasing by just under £1million as the number of prosecutions rose from about 25,000 to 40,000.

Terry Marsh, of Suffolk SafeCam, who carry out the checks, said while he is disappointed at the increasing numbers of people being caught, accidents have been cut.

But the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) claim the countrywide “plague” of cameras is unnecessary and is causing resentment among road users.

Nationally, more than £110million was collected from 1.8million speeding fixed penalty notices issued between March 2004 and April 2005, according to the Department for Transport.

Suffolk's tally of 39,406 tickets, which generated £2,364,360, places it at 27th out of the 34 areas, with neighbouring Norfolk 32nd, Cambridgeshire 34th and Essex fifth.

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In 2003/04, 24,144 motorists were given tickets in Suffolk, at a cost of £1,448,640 to the county's driving public.

The money raised pays for the running of the partnership, which cost £1.5million in 2004/05, with the remainder handed over to the Treasury.

Terry Marsh, of Suffolk SafeCam, stressed the focus of the organisation is on road safety, although he admitted the message does not seem to be getting through to all motorists.

He said: “We're disappointed some people are still being caught speeding, despite all the warning signs.

“However, there has been a significant improvement in the number of people keeping to the speed limit. This has been reflected by significant reductions in the number of people being hurt at camera sites, in particular the number of people receiving fatal or serious injuries.

“Across all of our camera sites we've seen an 80 per cent reduction in the number of people suffering serious or fatal injuries. Although people are still being caught, far more people are sticking to the speed limits.”

But the IAM, which succeeded in its recent calls for a government review of speed restrictions on A and B roads, believes the cameras are having a negative affect.

A spokesman for the institute said: “There has been a plague of speed cameras which has switched the emphasis away from kerbside education.

“A blue light and a sharp word from a police officer is often far more effective and we need more of this in order to win back eroding public support.”

He added “too many” motorists are convinced the cameras are aimed at “income generation rather than road safety”.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said government backing for the devices remains strong.

He said: “There's no change in our support for the cameras. All the evidence shows they do save lives. But we've always said cameras are not the panacea and we expect local authorities and partnerships to consider other solutions, including traffic calming and road engineering, before introducing them.”

SUFFOLK SafeCam today said it still hopes to introduce more camera sites in the county, despite its current plans being delayed.

The group announced a total of 18 new sites due to come in force on April 1 last year.

This included a fixed camera in Fore Hamlet, Ipswich, with mobile sites earmarked for the A1156 in Nacton, London Road, Landseer Road, and Ellenbrook Road, all in Ipswich, and High Road and Trinity Avenue, Felixstowe.

But Mr Marsh said a change in government thinking on where to place speed cameras has held up the group's plans.

Rather than focusing on accident blackspot areas, Mr Marsh said the government is now happy for cameras to be set up anywhere on dangerous routes, instead of at a particular point where past accidents have occurred.

He said: “We expect all of our sites to comply and we shall resubmit our application for the new sites.

“Unfortunately, we're still waiting to put our application in. But once this is done we don't anticipate any delays in getting approval.”

A12 Benhall: Four serious accidents between 1999 and 2002. None in 2003 and 2004 after the cameras were introduced.

A14 Haughley: 13 serious accidents between 1999 and 2002. None in 2003 and 2004 after cameras were introduced.

A140 Brome: Three accidents between 1999 and 2003. One in 2004 after the camera was introduced.

A140 Coddenham: Four serious accidents between 1999 and 2003. None in 2004 after the camera was introduced.

A140 Earl Stonham: Three serious accidents between 1999 and 2003. None in 2004 after the camera was introduced.

A1065 Brandon: Three serious accidents between 1999 and 2003. None in 2004 after the camera was introduced.

A1144 Normanston Drive, Lowestoft: Two serious accidents between 1999 and 2003. One in 2003 after the camera was introduced, but none in 2004.

A1304 Hamilton Road, Newmarket: Five serious accidents between 1999 and 2003. None in 2003 and 2004 after the camera was introduced.

*Figures are the latest available, up to March 2004.

Source: Suffolk SafeCam